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Team Taylor-Alton Blanes Report

So with the World’s team out in Argentina and us having just missed out on a place we decided, along with three other boats, to go out to Spain and compete in the Blanes Regatta over new years. With the regatta starting on 2nd Jan everyone arrived in Blanes on the evening of the 28th from the UK, and me and family from Andorra having just had some high altitude training…also known as skiing.

The morning of the 29th arrived and we got down to the boat park relatively early to get the boats unpacked from the trailer and get out for a sail in the afternoon. With the trailer unpacked, which took a lot less time than the 3 hours it took to load it in the rain back in Warsash, thanks to Robert Vose who showed us how to load it, we spent the morning checking the boats and getting everything ready to go sailing. We then launched after having lunch to go see what the conditions were like as none of us had sailed there before, although many of us had just up the coast at Palamos. There was a light breeze but a big Mediterranean swell which none of us were used to. We spent a few hours out tuning up and getting used to the waves and then as the wind died off we decided to call it a day and go back and relax/ revise for those of us who had exams when we got back. That evening our coach for the event, Tom Mapplebeck, arrived and quickly informed us that we were leaving for the club at 8 the following morning as this was what the event timings would be like.

The next morning we all woke up early and got down to the club just as the sun was rising over the horizon. We quickly rigged and launched but the Swedish Europes had still beaten us to it. We spent around 3 hours out on the water and spent more time getting used to the local conditions and doing boat handling in the waves. We went out again in the afternoon after the breeze switched round 180degrees, the thing that would cause trouble throughout the event, in slightly more breeze and once again spent more time in the waves and spending what seemed like forever sailing downwind to get back towards the harbour.

As it was New Years the parents had sorted out food within the three apartments with each apartment having to come up with a game for the evening. It was an eventful evening with Pete managing to make a glass jug explode covering everything with glass and with a joint win in the first game we managed to win the prize of the rubber chicken, our new mascot.

The next morning we had opted for a much more laid back start of lunchtime having been up into the early hours of the morning but this meant that we arrived at the club to very light winds as it was trying to switch round. Unfortunately the wind never filled in but this did mean that we were able to get the boats cleaned and polished before the first day of racing on the 2nd.

The morning of the first race day and we were the first team down in the boatpark, we managed to keep this up for the whole week, and the first race wasn’t scheduled until the afternoon so we were sceptical about what the wind would do. After having several briefings and weather talks the launch flag went up and we were first out on the water. Unfortunately the wind never filled in enough to race but after the race was abandoned we decided there was enough to get some training in as we had missed out on the previous day. This led to some very worried parents and we only just made the 17:00 deadline for being back ashore with minutes to spare before having to pick up a 5 point penalty which would have proved very costly.

The next morning was another early start with the first race at 09:30. We went out confident and managed to score and 11th in the first race which we weren’t too disappointed about especially as it turned out to be our discard. Unfortunately that was the only race we got in that day as the wind died and never filled in again…so for some reason we all decided to go for a swim off the beach in 2m waves which was a lot colder than we had expected.

The third day of racing we managed to get two races in with the dying breeze and the Europes once again only managing one. Our first race we posted a 9th but were disappointed as we had round the first windward 4th but then made the wrong decision to go with the group ahead of us and gybe at the wing mark which meant that we all lost out and dropped to about 15th in the tight fleet. However, we managed to claw our way back up the second beat with us having really good boatspeed and tactics from Pete which were our two biggest strong points of the week. The second race we were fired up for after the first one and after winning the start we sailed a good race to finish fourth after making one slight mistake towards the top of the first beat and getting on the wrong side of a shift. We managed to finish 4th and that left us in 7th position overnight which we were relatively happy with.

The final day of racing presented us with similar conditions and we went out to post an 8th and a 7th. The first race we once again had a good start but so did many other boats and with the wind swinging left at the top of the first beat we rounded the first mark in roughly the same position as we finished. The runs were the same as they previously had been for the first one but on the last run one French boat gybed early and managed to get into more wind and gain massively after having rounded the windward just behind us which we were a bit disappointed about, but that’s sailing for you. The second race was very tightly fought with the left now paying down the runs and as we came to the final mark with a group of about 10 boats it looked like we may lose out but with a perfectly timed and executed gybe we managed to just sneak around the front of the group and finish 7th in the race.

We finished the event in 7th overall in a fleet where many of the top French and Spanish teams were competing so we were fairly happy with out result. We took some positives from the event having gone and wanting to work on our tactics and coming away feeling that we had achieved this and also having good starts in every race and good upwind boatspeed in the light winds which we had struggled with before. The event was great fun and was a good stepping stone for us to work out what we needed to work on before the first selections in March for the Europeans in the summer.

I would like to say a big thank you to Pete who helped keep me calm n frustrating conditions and our coach Tom who helped us out and was also a good laugh. Also, thanks to Allen who provided us with all of the equipment that we need and continue to do so and I have never had any of their equipment break even when other people are breaking the majority of their kit.

Chris Tayor

GBR 54163

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